It can be daunting for Christians to share our faith in this politically correct 21st century world. The evangelistic nature and exclusivity of Christianity has never been more unpopular in America. With cultural mottos such as, "Live and let live," and "Live your truth," evangelism has become taboo. It's more difficult than ever to share the gospel with anyone.....let alone with Mormons, who share many doctrinal terms and values with Christians.
With their new book, Sharing the Good News With Mormons, general editors Sean McDowell and Eric Johnson have given the church an invaluable resource for reaching our Mormon friends for Christ. Apologists, scholars, and pastors such as J. Warner Wallace, Matt Slick, Brett Kunkle, Mark Mittelberg, David Geisler, and others walk the reader through practical steps to making these important conversations happen with ease and grace.
The book is divided into six sections, each offering different approaches to sharing the good news with Mormons:
1. Basic Training Approaches
Often when Mormons leave their faith, they move toward atheism or agnosticism, rather than considering a different religious belief. They conclude that if Mormonism is false, all other religions must be as well. Sadly, many who come to this conclusion have never considered the positive evidence for the existence of God and the truthfulness of Christianity.
This may be because the Book of Mormon teaches that faith and knowledge are opposites: if you know something, you don't need faith, and vice versa. Therefore, Mormons are taught to ground their religion in experience.....in blind faith.
Educating yourself on some basic evidence for the existence of God, such as the Cosmological Argument and the Moral Argument, along with evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible, and the historical Jesus, can be a very helpful way to begin to walk your Mormon friends through actual evidence for the gospel. (All of this evidence is presented in the first section of Sharing the Good News With Mormons.)
2. Reasoning Approaches
Jesus commanded us to "Love the Lord your God with all your mind" (Mark 12:30). As reasonable creatures, God made us to use good logic and thinking skills! Just as Christians should investigate claims relating to the truthfulness of Christianity (as section one examines), a good approach to evangelizing Mormons can be to encourage them to investigate the claims of Mormonism.
In section two of Sharing the Good News With Mormons, J. Warner Wallace describes his experience as a Los Angeles Homicide Cold Case Detective. This helps the reader learn the nature of criminal investigations and provides simple principles of good detective work for examining the life of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the claims of Mormonism.
3. Personal Approaches
Good evangelism includes knowing where a person is coming from.....understanding their worldview, upbringing, culture, and presuppositions. No one knew this better than the Apostle Paul. When he spoke to Jews in synagogues, he cited plenty of Scripture, but when he spoke to Gentiles, he cited pagan poets to make the case for the Christian God being the one true God.
Understanding the conversion process, theology, gender roles, culture, and everyday life of Mormons is key to finding open doors of conversation. This takes time, knowledge, patience, and love.
4. Invitational Approaches
Evangelism shouldn't be viewed as a "project" or simply "crossing something off a list." As section four of Sharing the Good News With Mormons says, "It's about getting to know other people, hearing what they have to say, and engaging them as a fellow human."
As Christians, one of the best ways to reach our Mormon friends is to seek to make them comfortable in conversation by learning a few simple questions that can create a pathway to talking about spiritual matters. For example, asking a Mormon, “Did you go on mission?” is a great place to start, because for a Mormon, a mission is a significant and formative time in their lives. This can open the door to more questions about themselves, their experiences, and their beliefs.
Keeping it simple, listening, and even inviting a Mormon neighbor to your Christian church service can be great ways to begin to share the gospel.
5. LDS Event Approaches
The most effective way to share the gospel with Mormons is through personal relationship where love and trust has already been established. But what if you have a heart to share the gospel with Mormons, but don't actually know any in real life? Section five of Sharing the Good News With Mormons will give you several practical ideas such as attending a public event and handing out well-written newspaper publications, giving out free books, and even engaging in open-air evangelism (not the angry, screaming through a bullhorn kind!) that can actually be quite effective tools for reaching Mormons for Christ.
6. Salvation Approaches
After investing in relationship, listening to our Mormon friends, understanding where they're coming from, answering their questions, and asking our own questions, the door may be open to actually talk about salvation—how to come into relationship with God through Jesus as described in the Bible.
Mormons have a different understanding of the word "grace" than Christians do. In section six, Dr. Loren Pankratz explains, "Mormons are taught that grace is nothing more than God's 'enabling power' to help them keep commandments in order to qualify for exaltation." Our ability to successfully share God's true grace with Mormons will depend on our own grasp of these differences and definitions.
Explaining our need for God and the reality of our sinfulness, along with the correct definition of God's grace, will be key to sharing the gospel with Mormons.
If you're a Christian and have Mormon friends or neighbors—or you simply have a heart to reach Mormons—I highly recommend this book! I honestly can't think of a better resource to help equip Christians for the task of sharing the good news with Mormons.